[[Dead and Loving it]]

Created by Polish studio, People can Fly and published by Dreamcatcher, Painkiller is best described as a fast-paced, first-person horror shooter.
From what we have seen so far the game has been created with the classic FPS games, especially Doom and Serious Sam, in mind but with an intense desire to create an original adrenaline-fueled experience.
To call Painkiller a sleeper hit would be unjust since the game definitely has the pedigree to become as big as any other title. The game however, has gained a lot of publicity by doing something most big-time titles have not been able to achieve; by being on-time. The delays and variety of problems which have plagued big FPS games like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2, have helped Painkiller and its publisher hog the gaming industry's limelight. Having written that, you have to consider that it still isn't plain sailing for Daniel Garner, since competition will be strong with games like Far Cry and UT 2004 on the way, an indication of how strong and competitive the market has become.

Although Painkiller focuses on twitching trigger-fingers and overall mayhem, what really adds to the experience is the eerie backdrop, against which this theatre of the after-life performs. There is a clear gothic element throughout the game which is backed up by chanting sound effects and creepy music, creating an intense and gripping atmosphere which makes it all work. Although Painkiller does not profess to contain an extremely intricate plot or character build-up, it manages to blend the hectic action, the story, environments and characters into an explosive mixture which drives the gamer on and on and on... Every aspect of the game gels so well with all other elements that you instantly know that the developers got the chemistry just right.

Painkiller will become available on April 12, 2004.


You play as Daniel Garner, a seemingly regular guy, who has just been killed in an horrific car accident. Trapped between heaven and hell you struggle to find out why you've been denied entry into heaven.
Awaiting your purification, you have to fight your way through a horde of demon soldiers in order to prevent an unholy war.

Read on to find out what Painkiller has going for it under the hood.


At the heart of Painkiller lies a proprietary 3D engine, created by People can Fly. Even a quick look at the game will leave you satisfied that the engine is up to the task.

PAIN, that is what PcF have named their engine, gives out an extremely high polygon count and textures of very high quality, while using all the latest lighting and shadowing techniques, including effects like soft shadows, DOT3 bump mapping, water reflections, glass simulation and volumetric light and fog. What all this jargon basically means is that Painkiller has some sweet visuals and that PAIN can dish out eyecandy as fast as your graphics board can handle it.

What is also impressive is the amount of detail and work that has gone into the creation of the environments. The game features 24 single-player levels and each is entirely unique with almost no texture reuse between levels. The average level is 350,000 polygons, monsters are 3,000 - 4,000 polygons while boss monsters will have 8,000+ polygons. The textures are also very high-resolution with an average of 1024x1024 with bosses being 2x2048x2048. Enemies will also have advanced bump mapping and lighting models including specular lighting.

Having a good 3D Engine is a necessary step when attempting to create a good game but what really adds that extra blockbuster feel to the game is the use of the Havok 2.0 physics engine.
Havok 2.0 has quickly become an industry standard with games like Half-Life 2 and Max Payne 2 licensing it but Painkiller offers by far the best use of
the engine so far. As soon as you load-up the game, you can't help but notice the prolific use of the physics engine. Within a minute of gameplay you will have been struck by flailing limbs (sometimes not even attached to a body) or by exploding barrels which you also have to watch out for when they land. Hanged men will shake if hit by projectiles while some bosses will hurl dead monsters at you making full use of Havok's, well known by now, ragdoll effects.
Some will be tempted to scream overkill for the use of Havok in Painkiller but like everything else in this game the physics also seem to be just right.

Combine impressive and highly detailed environments, with the physics and the powerful 3D engine and you get a completely immersing and addictive experience.

Read on to find out how Painkiller will utilize its technology in order to enhance the gaming experience.


As mentioned earlier the game will have 24 single-player levels, each will have its own boss monsters and one major boss monster. The player will have a choice of five weapons, each with a distinct alternative fire option. The story blends with the gameplay as you collect the souls of each monster you shoot, adding one point to your overall health. Once you have collected 100 souls you turn into a demon for a short while, exterminating all enemies in your path.
There is very little finesse involved in the way Painkiller plays, this is NOT a stealth or strategy game. This is pure unadulterated, unrelenting, explosive, in-your-face action. This action will keep you tense and your trigger finger twitching while the endless, constantly respawning, enemies keep you busy at all times.

Although the action is intense, there is some use of intelligence needed and that is what can decide if you make it to the next level or not. Using the barrels and firework-like explosives, for example, can help you to get rid of multiple enemies while conserving your ammunition.


An eagerly anticipated feature of Painkiller is the multiplayer mode which promises a variety of innovations.

There will be five multiplayer modes for the game played over 7 maps and according to current information, it will support 32 players. The modes are as follows:

The objective in Deathmatch is to kill as many enemies as possible within a set time limit.

Team Deathmatch
A mutation of the deathmatch mode which pits teams of a set number of players against each other, each trying to get most kills.

People can Fly
A modification of deathmatch one-on-one relying heavily on physics based multiplay. Equipped with the Rocket Launcher/Chaingun, you can only score damage against your enemy when he's on the air. You can use your rockets to send them flying and your chaingun to finish them off.

In Voosh mode each player will have the same weapons as all other players. After a set or random time interval (server regulated) the weapons will change for everyone. This mode will give all weapons infinite ammo and will be played over two exclusive maps.

The Light Bearer
In Light Bearer, Quad damage never wears off, this is a capture-the-flag type of multiplayer mode. The first player who grabs it can use it until he dies, this should happen fairly quickly as all other players should team-up on the Quad Bearer. The winner is the person who has the Quad when time is up.

There is a wealth of gameplay options for Painkiller which promise to give the game some replay value, options which will be necessary since it is very linear.

Read on to find out what Megagames has to say about Painkiller.

[[Final Thought]]

Painkiller offers a pleasant change from what is rapidly becoming the blockbuster game norm of arrogant developers and clueless publishers. The title has been developed openly and even when the process was facing problems such as the recent leaked version, no one over-reacted.

The game itself stays true to the simplest form of gameplay, that of all-out action FPS. Every aspect of the game is highly polished and the whole effort blends together creating a seamless amalgam offering sheer gaming delight.

Beyond pompous descriptions and written praise, Painkiller is a product of hard work and love. Just by looking at the game you know that People can Fly really enjoyed working on it and that a lot of TLC went into its creation.

By now most of you, if not all, have already tried the demo so this is not an empty review heaping praise on an unknown quantity, I am certain that even if this game is not your kind of entertainment, if you try the demo you may find that you will lose your soul to it.

If you haven't yet sampled Painkiller, you can get the demo from Megagames.

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